So I am the MissFit who shows up at the gym in some sort of superhero shirt most days. I’m the MissFit with the often ridiculous pants to accompany said superhero shirt [Exhibit A – I will admit to owning a pair of sweats with the word “LOVE” down one leg]. It has now become somewhat of my alter-ego and one I proudly wear for reasons that are obvious and reasons that are more private…..until now. See body image is something we all struggle with, we all talk about with each other to a point, and we all wish were better within ourselves. We are willing to criticize our own bodies but not willing to allow our friends to do the same to theirs.
Since starting to train with the team and joining the MissFits, I have tuned in a little more astutely to the commentary around body image both in my head and between my teammates. It’s a tough subject, no question. It’s written about a lot. As women, we all have that thing about ourselves we wish we could change, we wish no one could see, we wish was never there and I am quite guilty when it comes to this sort of self-talk so what do I do? I dress it up as a super hero!
I always have and likely always will have struggles when it comes to the body in my mind and the body in the mirror. Stepping into this alter-ego often gives me strength to ask my body to do things it has never done before, to be vulnerable to singularity in the moment by standing alone on the platform, to synthesize my physical armor with my emotional armor. This is tough stuff for so many of us and regardless of all the reasons behind it for any ONE of us, it exists in ALL of us.
I listen. I listen a lot to my teammates, my friends and family, and I rarely to never hear anyone 100% complimentary of their own body. Everything is said with that tongue in cheek disclaimer…that “but” if this were better or that were smaller remark. Guilty as charged. I train with some of the most beautiful, strongest, kindest, fit women I know and I hear it from them too. This will always be a work in progress for women but the gift we can give ourselves and our teammates is exactly that…………the work in progress. Nothing is absolute and strength looks different on different people. We can and should celebrate those differences and not compare them.
It’s easy to keep our head down, focused on the details we wish were different about our own bodies and get stuck. In our gym, I hear my fellow teammates complimenting each other’s bodies. I listen. I listen a lot to one say to the other “your back looks great”, “your guns are poppin’”, “your butt looks great on that squat”, “your legs look so strong on that deadlift”. These small moments, these specific compliments mean so much.
I see the pause it gives the receiver when they hear something like that and out pops that grin…..you know the one, the involuntary one when happiness sneaks up on us. As women it’s hard to deliver these same compliments to ourselves so let’s, at a minimum, start by giving them to each other. Let’s get our head up and hold it higher. Let’s remind ourselves of the big picture because when we hold our heads higher we tend to see things clearer. We are healthy, we are strong, we are beautiful, and we get the privilege to showcase that femininity, that strength, that beauty through competition.
Each morning, when I open my superhero T-shirt drawer to pack my gym bag, I know I’m doing my best, in my own way, to build that bridge between the physical and emotional and for me that works. I love that people know me for my superhero gear – it’s the “super” that makes me strive to be a “hero” to myself. For you, it might be funky yoga pants, a clever tank top, or confident shoes, but whatever it is…..build that bridge. Look at your team and practice – tell them how great they look, how strong they look, how determined they are and in one small quiet moment, tell yourself the same thing.